Sledgehammer comes from the sea
Late afternoon on a Thursday...
The sun is setting behind the hills with the best light it could ever radiate. In the Akbük Bay, right at Gökova, as soon as I set my foot on the pier from the boat, a voice called my name from the sea: “Mr. Ertuğrul...”
I looked down; a guy was looking at me from the sea.
His goggles were pulled over his head. He told me, “You know me, but of course it is natural that you wouldn’t recognize me here.”
It always puts me in trouble to not recognize a person who knows me. I told him, “I could not remember.”
He said, “I am ....,” giving his name. I still could not remember. “Then let me give you a clue,” he offered.
“I am one of the officers who were arrested in the Balyoz [Sledgehammer] case.”
Immediately I remembered the letter he had sent me. “I thank you and daily Hürriyet very much. Both providing us the sentiment that we were not alone while we were in prison and also you have made the country and the world know what kind of injustice was being done to us,” he said.
Actually, I was pondering on something else then. It was a nice summer day. The Aegean region is going through its July. A voice inside me told me, “Look at the turn of events.”
He is here with his wife and children, enjoying the pleasure of a Turkish summer. But those who have stolen three to five summers from their lives were put into prison, handcuffed, on the same day.
This life, this cruel fate is giving us incredible life lessons every day. Somehow, we do not see them; we do not learn from them.
For this reason, history keeps repeating itself in front of our eyes; with new injustices, with new pains. With new villains and new people being oppressed…
On the waterfront
I am on the pier; the Balyoz former convicted colonel is in the sea; we keep on chatting.
“Look at this fate. You are out of prison; today you are here swimming. Those who put you in prison and who were swimming around here last year are now imprisoned,” I told him, adding, “It is now the others’ turn to be handcuffed. Those who handcuffed them today will probably also be handcuffed by others in the future.”
I assumed he would enjoy this rationale.
Just the opposite happened and he told me these surprising words: “Yes, Mr. Ertuğrul, but until what? Are we going to be happy with this endless showdown?”
Then, he said these, for me, very impressive words:
“The line has to be drawn at some point…”
I could not find words to reply, but he went on:
“During the months of Ramadan while I was in prison, I did not skip one day of fasting. Some don’t want to understand, but we are also believers. But now, at this wonderful shore, I want to drink my rakı in peace of mind. Whoever wants to can live any life they want here on this shore or in other coasts, right next to me, according to their beliefs. Let us not bother each other. Let us accept each other, as long as we all live in peace.”
The person talking to me has spent three years of his life in prison because of slander; they have been humiliated by a certain portion of the media for months; his family has been agonized…
He graduated from the military academy in 1990. The “Class of ‘90” contains the best and most successful officers of the Turkish navy. Out of the 28 people, the lives of 25 of them have been made to fall apart; they have been snatched from their frigates. Only three of them are left…
Easy to say, it has been a full three and a half years in prison. But he does not have the smallest dose of the feeling of revenge in him… In his voice, there is not even one-thousandth of a decibel of rage…